Digital sales and marketing technologies make it possible to monitor buyers throughout the different stages of the purchasing cycle. Organizations can accurately identify, measure and follow up on activities that effectively engage buyers and trigger purchase decisions. This, however, requires sales and marketing leaders to adopt a different mindset and approach. They need to integrate resources, processes, systems and performance metrics. During this journey, the need for specialized roles may arise. One role is the revenue marketer.
A changing B2B marketplace calls for marketing and sales integration
There is no doubt that the B2B selling marketplace has changed. As mentioned in previous articles, changes in customer buying behavior and digital sales and marketing technologies have redefined the seller-buyer relationship. The changing B2B marketplace impacts the roles and competencies required among tomorrow's sales and marketing organizations. We have identified six specialized roles (read about the roles in ProSales Quarterly) out of which two –the lead generator and the sales scientist –have traditionally been perceived as pure marketing roles. That perception, however, is changing. In fact, the competencies and skills demanded by tomorrow's sales teams call for a greater degree of integration between marketing and sales organizations.
Common obstacles preventing integration
Despite potential benefits from integration, obstacles arise. Frequent explanations behind conflicts between the organizations are: sales teams do not follow up on marketing leads, marketing teams hand-off unqualified leads and marketing's perspective is too broad, they do not resonate with individual customer needs. While it does not take a lot of effort to create a list of obstacles, it takes more effort to think about efficient and effective practices to unite both teams.
is Marketing the next revenue-generating center?
The first practice that comes to mind is to integrate sales and marketing performance metrics. Why not make marketing leaders equally accountable for sales results? It seems reasonable and logical that if both marketing and sales leaders are accountable for sales results, the incentive to integrate organizational structures, processes, activities and technology systems will increase. While it will sure meet resistance, it is by no means a new idea.
A few years ago, Kotler, Rackham and Krishnaswamy – in "Ending the war between sales and marketing" – introduced the idea of an integrated set of sales and marketing metrics. They suggested that if sales and marketing integration was deemed necessary, a shared performance metric should be considered. Moreover, a recent article – "B2B marketers: its time to become a growth engine" – brought the idea back to surface and suggested to hold B2B marketers equally accountable for revenue growth. The authors argued that greater attention should be allocated to marketing activities that lead to concrete business results.
While this idea has not been widely implemented in organizations yet, we see a clear pattern. B2B marketing leaders perceive a growing pressure to transition from a cost center into a revenue-generating center. A recent survey revealed that 53% of CMOs experience an increased pressure to show concrete revenue contributions.
The rise of the revenue marketer
An example that supports the above-mentioned perception is the rise of a new role: the B2B revenue marketer. Debbie Qaqish (listen to her talking about "the rise of the revenue marketer" in the following podcast) defines these B2B professionals as marketers who:
"have revenue or revenue related accountability through campaigns and digital interactions set up via marketing automation and CRM tools. They are responsible for the top of the sales funnel and for nurturing leads until they are sales-ready. In addition, they support sales to accelerate opportunity velocity. Finally, revenue marketers results are repeatable, predictable and sustainable."
Regardless if marketing and sales integration means that future B2B marketers will have accountability for sales results or if the inside sales 2.0 will have a blend of sales, marketing and digital skills, the common thread is the fact that organizational walls between marketing and sales are vanishing. It is time to work cross-functionally and to build a shared view of the future of the sales and marketing organization.
Which shared sales and marketing activities have the greatest potential to achieve integration?
After over 10 years of research, we know the best way to influence sales results is to define and encourage pre-defined behaviors and activities. Sales and marketing leaders can begin by deciding on common activities with high potential to improve the effectiveness of the sales process. Would it be a good idea to involve marketing leaders during opportunity qualification? What about involving sales during crafting of value propositions? Is marketing turning data from CRM and marketing automation systems into insights? While common sense, I am not sure those are common practices among sales and marketing organizations. To facilitate your integration with marketing while maximizing efficiency and effectiveness, we provide you with a tool. We hope you gain valuable insights about what those shared activities could be.
Ph.D. Markus Ejenäs, ProSales Institute